In the early 20th Century, it was thought that the hard fought steps taken by the abolitionists and the enslaved Africans towards abolition, and the eventual emancipation, of the Transatlantic slave spelled the beginning of the end of such inhumanity. However, the insidious nature of slavery in all its forms proved to be resistant to those efforts. This was recognised by the International Labour Organisation and prompted them to define forced labour in 1930 as, “all work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty”.
Later in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 4), stated that “no one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.” Such conventions and adjustments to legislation were still deemed to be necessary yet by the mid 1990s, slavery was thought to be nonexistent. These views meant that it was left to the human rights activists to raise the alarm of the reality of contemporary forms of slavery which is now being widely acknowledged.
Slavery today takes the shape of bonded labour or debt bondage, classical or descent-based slavery, contract slavery, domestic slavery, forced labour for the state, forced marriages, forced prostitution and wartime enslavement. International governments can begin to address this by recognising the need to enforce robust legislation and by improving public awareness and education, so that there is a common will to take action. However, the support and acknowledgement of victims’ experiences is desperately needed, as much can be learnt from firsthand accounts that clearly demonstrate the horrors of slavery.
Information based on Contemporary Slavery Teacher’s Resource by International Slavery Museum and partners. This, and other new resources have been added to the About Slavery tab. Many thanks to WISE for a wealth of information.
Electronic copy: http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/ism/learning/slavery-today/teaching-resources/index.aspx
For a hard copy please contact R.Bloomfield@hull.ac.uk.
Image: "Bonded labour, India" by Free the Slaves/Romano. Taken from the aforementioned Contemporary Slavery Teacher’s Resource.